I recently had a very interesting conversation with a client who called for some in-between-session support.
He called because he was feeling completely stuck. He was swamped with having so much to do, so many opportunities he could be taking advantage of, and he felt completely overwhelmed. He had no idea how to prioritize all the multiple options of actions he could take.
As a result he was paralyzed and unable to pick any of the multiple possible actions to take or any of the many opportunities to pursue. And he also felt panicky because he believed he was in danger of missing out on opportunities because of being so totally stuck.
Does this sound familiar to you?
I know it did to me. In the past, I’ve gone for weeks feeling completely powerless to take action because I couldn’t figure out which action to take first.
I suggested two solutions to this problem, a short-term right-now band-aid and a long-term more permanent fix. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful as well.
One of my teachers, Johnnie Cass, gave a brilliant bit of advice, which he shared in an off-the-cuff remark during my NLP training. It’s stayed with me all these years, “When you’re feeling overwhelmed, narrow your focus.” I love that and have used it often — just pay attention to the thing right in front of you.
And that’s usually really helpful, but when you’re overwhelmed by opportunities, how do you pick which opportunity is the right opportunity to focus on right now?
Here are a few re-frames that might help:
First, when confronted by too many opportunities, take a moment to be grateful. Too many opportunities is a happy problem!
So much better than too few, no? So, take a moment, to just breathe in gratitude for the abundance of the Universe!
Great, now that you’re in an appreciative state of mind ask yourself these clarifying questions:
- Which of these opportunities brings me closer to the “right-now” money?
- How much time do I have available, today, to take action?
The first question has to do with the low-hanging fruit, the short-term funds that will help you pay the rent immediately. There’s no shame in pursuing the low hanging fruit, in fact it can be vital to your business’ survival.
My client, though, had a valid concern – what if I’m pursuing “good” and sacrificing “great,” which is where the second question comes in. If you only have time today to take one action or pursue one opportunity, because you have other obligations, appointments, etc., then pursue the “right-now” money.
Keeping yourself solvent will empower you to pursue the “great”, visionary and long term opportunities when you have a bit more time. But in the meantime, you have to eat, right?
If you have more time today – see if you can split it in half – spend half of the time on the low hanging fruit/right-now money opportunities; and half on the longer term opportunities that are more long-term goal oriented. I’d recommend a minimum of 1 hour for each – so if you have less than 2 hours, pick the low-hanging fruit. (If you find you never have more than an hour, try taking turns alternating between low-hanging fruit and long-term goal oriented opportunities.)
If you have 2 hours or more, pick ONE for each category to pursue within that time frame. Just pick, flip a coin! Whatever you choose is going to move you forward and you will learn as long as you take action with an experimental mindset.
But if you can choose with your long-term goals in mind, your choices will be so much easier to make! And you will be much more likely to choose opportunities that will advance you toward your vision! This leads me to the more permanent fix (which you may want to choose as the long-term goal oriented action…)
The Permanent Fix: A Clear, Specific Vision and Plan to Guide You
Part of what caused the overwhelm for my client was the lack of a clear, specific long-term vision and a plan composed of milepost goals to guide his journey.
Without these strong roots in place, you are very much at the mercy of the winds.
And two things can happen. First of all, from a Law of Attraction standpoint – you have not placed a clear specific order with the Universe and while it’s doing its level best to send you great opportunities, without clear goals, the opportunities you’re attracting can tend to be pellmell and haphazard.
It’s like going into a restaurant and ordering cow – you just don’t know what you’ll get!
But secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, without a clear vision of where you want to get to, it’s so much harder to evaluate and prioritize the opportunities coming your way.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you gauge the effectiveness of one path over another? How can you decide which are the good opportunities and which is the one great opportunity that will thrust open the doors of success for you? Even enough to take a guess?
The sooner you design your long-term vision and plan, the easier it will be to switch from overwhelm into overdrive!
The Fundamental Shift in Perspective
Both of these strategies have one thing in common – they shift you from:
Opportunity Focused Reaction —> Goal Centered Response
And you always want to choose being Response-able over being Reaction-ary. When you can make choices from a grounded, centered and focused place, when you have cleared the noise so you can hear your inner, intuitive voice, you will be able to make powerful choices with ease.
And nothing clears the noise better than a strong vision, specific and measurable goals and a clear plan to achieve both.
Will this guarantee that the opportunity you choose to pursue will be great? Or even good? Will it guarantee success?
There are no guarantees – all you can do is make the best decision with the information you have – and having the courage to create your vision and goals will create a lot of clarity to inform your decisions.
Please share with me – what opportunity you will choose to pursue today? And let me know how it works out – OK? Just leave a comment below.
Oh, and if you’ve been thinking, “Yeah, but…” Please share your “yeah, buts” with me too!